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May 10, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Critical Condition

Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) Manager Darel Hall has suspended Critic Editor Callum Fredric.

Fredric was placed on interim suspension last Friday, with Sam McChesney appointed as Acting Editor. McChesney formerly worked as Deputy Editor and Sub-Editor under Fredric, but resigned from both roles in late March.

The editorial shake-up became public knowledge on Monday, when Fredric’s presence at the Critic office caused Campus Watch, and then police to be called. Senior Sergeant Benn told the Otago Daily Times, ”When the policeman asked him to leave he did so, and that was the end of that.”

Although the reason why the police were called to the office remains unclear, Critic staff filmed the incident, but then later claimed that the file had “corrupted” when Salient requested it. Salient has been told by staff present that Fredric left when asked, and was not “escorted” from the premises, as was reported in the Otago Daily Times.

Fredric wishes to “continue as Critic Editor”, and has sought legal advice on the matter. It is understood that Fredric has lodged a personal grievance claim under the Employment Relations Act, and filed an affidavit of his written evidence in support of the claim on Tuesday.

Where an employer suspends an employee in order to investigate alleged misconduct, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment advises that “Suspending an employee is a serious action, and due process and consideration should be applied by the employer in instigating a suspension”.

One source told Salient that complaints were obtained by Hall from current Critic staff. The source, who had read the complaints, believed they had been relied upon as grounds for the suspension, but said that the concerns raised were not serious.

It has been suggested the tensions between Fredric and Hall began when Hall vetoed Fredric’s appointment of his girlfriend Maddy Phillipps to the role of Sub-Editor. This decision was appealed to, but subsequently upheld by, the Planet Media Dunedin Limited (PMDL) Board. At the time, Phillipps had held the role of Feature Writer since the beginning of 2012, and had already worked as a Sub-Editor for the magazine in 2012.

PMDL is a wholly owned subsidiary company of OUSA which manages all of University of Otago’s student media, including Critic and Radio One. The PMDL Board is currently comprised of the OUSA President, Vice-President and Finance Officer, and one independent board member. The Board delegates the annual appointment of a Critic Editor to the OUSA General Manager, who also acts as the PDML General Manager.

Critic staff, Fredric, and OUSA President Francisco Hernandez all refused to comment on the reasons behind Fredric’s suspension, or specifics of the incident on Monday when questioned by Salient.

McChesney was a close runner-up to Fredric in the bid for 2013 editorship.

In a radio interview with Salient on Tuesday, McChesney reiterated that he had only been in the job for four days when he was unable to answer more technical questions about the role. Despite this very recent changeover, McChesney will be producing a 52-page issue in his first week; the longest issue of Critic for 2013.

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About the Author ()

Molly McCarthy and Stella Blake-Kelly are Salient Co-Editors for 2013, AKA Salient Babes.

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